December 5, 2017 / 9:14 AM / a year ago

French service sector steps up hiring as activity booms - PMI

PARIS, (Reuters) - Growth in France’s booming service sector exceeded preliminary expectations in November as strong demand led firms to step up hiring to the fastest pace in 16 years, a monthly survey showed on Tuesday.

Data compiler IHS Markit said its purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for services rose to 60.4 from 57.3 in October, the highest reading since May 2011.

The result was better than a preliminary reading of 60.2 and lifted the index further away from the 50-point threshold dividing expansions in activity from contractions.

“The French service sector looks to be closing out 2017 on a firmly solid footing, with both business activity and new orders hitting six-and-a-half year highs in November,” IHS Markit

economist Alex Gill said.

He added that soaring demand coupled with a September labour market reform had inspired service providers to take on additional workers at the fastest rate in nearly 16-1/2 years,

with hotels and restaurants leading the way.

After strong manufacturing sector data last week, the latest service figures suggest the private sector is heading for its best quarter since the second quarter of 2011, Gill said.

IHS Markit’s composite PMI index, which includes the services and manufacturing data, rose to 60.3 from 57.4 in October, topping a preliminary reading of 60.1.

Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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